Photos and story by Carley Olejniczak / Contributing Writer
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), over 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. This tragic statistic could be drastically reduced if people would adopt their animals from shelters and sanctuaries instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores. With overcrowding in shelters and backyard breeding becoming an ever-increasing problem, there are millions of pets that need re-homing, and it’s up to each community to provide it for them.
Rutherford County’s Pet Adoption and Welfare Services (PAWS) is Murfreesboro’s local nonprofit animal shelter. This volunteer-run facility is home to dozens of cats and dogs until they are adopted into their forever families. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
The animals that are being temporarily housed at PAWS come from all walks of life. From owner surrenders to strays, each dog and cat has their own story of why they have come to the shelter, and they are all waiting to be saved by their future owners. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
In order to have enough room for all incoming animals, PAWS is a kill shelter. But the veterinarians will only euthanize an animal if extremely necessary, such as when the animal is fatally ill or overly aggressive. Other shelters put down animals in order to make more room at their facility for incoming cats and dogs. Pet owners who shop at pet stores or private breeders are denying shelter animals a home, and the risk of euthanasia increases. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
Some animals at shelters have less time available than others when it comes to waiting for a forever home. Harley, an 11-year-old Australian Sheperd/Catahoula Leopard Hound mix, has an even smaller chance of adoption because of her age. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
Statistically speaking, older dogs are less likely to be adopted than younger ones. Harley has a higher chance at spending the rest of her life in a cage at a shelter because of her age. Adopting Harley would undoubtedly save her life. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
Other pups, like Chester, a 4-month-old Australian Cattle Dog mix, were picked up as strays and placed in the shelter. Because the strays have spent an unknown amount of time on the streets, a few of them have learned to distrust humans. So, it takes a special type of person to adopt these pets and give them the happy life they never had. Dogs like Chester are still playful and loving despite their harsh background. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
Besides saving lives, there are many reasons to adopt from shelters rather than shop for pets. One incentive is that all animals that make their way through the facility are spayed or neutered by the shelter’s vet team. Unwanted animal pregnancies can lead to more pets being put up for adoptions in shelters, making them over-crowded. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
Another perk of adopting rather than shopping is the cost. “Whether you go to a breeder or a shelter, either way you’re going to be spending money,” said Jessica Pennington. Pennington has been a volunteer on and off at PAWS since she was 11-years-old. “But, you could be spending hundreds of dollars at a breeder,” she pointed out, as opposed to the small adoption fee of about $80, or $48 if the animal is already “fixed.” (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
“Why would you want to pay for an animal that’s not even born yet when there’s already so many in need,” asked Katrina Jones, a new volunteer at PAWS. Jones has always been against the idea of shopping for a pet. “There’s so many animals in the world that are already here and already need a home,” she said. (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
“I don’t even consider adoption fees when paying for a dog,” said Brandon Roberts, a Murfreesboro local. “I’m basically just paying the shelter back for taking care of the animal until it is adopted. That’s different than paying hundreds of dollars for someone to breed a dog and make money from it.” (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
Roberts is looking to adopt a dog himself, and he has considered adoption as his only choice. “I prefer to adopt a dog because they are the ones that really need the homes,” he explained. “The dogs everyone goes out and buys, there will always be people that want them. These shelter dogs, though, if someone doesn’t adopt them then many never get another home and have to be put down.” (Carley Olejniczak / MTSU Sidelines)
To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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